Do Pet Birds Need to be Misted?

Macaw preening feathers
Misting your pet bird can promote preening. Ashley Cooper/ Getty Images

Question: Do Pet Birds Need to be Misted?

I have noticed that some bird owners mist their pets with a spray bottle each day. Should I do this for my pet bird, and if so, what are the benefits?


Misting your pet bird with fresh clean water each day can provide a variety of benefits to your feathered friend.

Birds in the wild get showers on a regular basis every time it rains. This is Nature's way of providing the natural shower that birds need to keep their feathers in top condition. You will also occasionally see birds bathing in puddles and at the edge of streams and lakes. Bathing is instinctive and is a natural part of their grooming tasks. Flight is a necessary part of survival for a bird and bathing helps keep their feathers in top condition for flight. 

Aside from the fact that many birds enjoy a good spritz, misting can promote healthy preening of the feathers, leading to reduced instances of feather picking and plucking, as well as helping to invigorate your bird's skin.

Misting is especially important to birds that are molting, as it can help loosen the keratin sheath that covers new pinfeathers. This makes it easier for your bird to remove this sheath during normal preening behavior.

Another thing that daily misting can do for birds is improve the health of their respiratory systems. Captive birds in the home are often deprived of humidity in the air that would normally be in their natural environments. Replacing some of this humidity by misting your pet and his enclosure each day can help ensure that your bird's lungs stay as healthy as possible. 

Misting is especially helpful in dry areas of the world as well as in the drier times of the year when the humid in homes decreases. Misting can increase the moisture not in in their feathers, but it is soothing to their skin underneath all of those feathers. 

In order to properly mist your bird, your must first obtain a new, clean spray bottle that has never had any chemicals in it, as residue could linger in the bottle and be toxic to your pet. If the bottle has an adjustable nozzle, make sure that it is set to spray a fine mist, and not a stream. Use plain water that is room temperature and mist the bird all over its body. Be sure not to saturate your bird's feathers; only mist until you can see beads of water accumulate on your pet's body.

While there are many bath and misting products out on the market, plain water is preferable unless your bird is under the care of an avian veterinarian and there is some medical need for a prescription mist. 

If you've never misted your bird before, he or she may be apprehensive about the procedure. Try slowly working it into your daily routine and gauge how your pet reacts. If your bird is frightened by the spray bottle at first, try leaving it by his cage for a few days so he can adjust to this new object. Mist yourself with the bottle, and show your pet how wonderful and soothing it is. You may also try giving your pet a special treat after he has been misted, to help him look forward to his daily "shower".

While misting can be a fun and refreshing activity, it is not a real substitute for a shower or bath. Teaching your bird to bathe in a bowl of water, the sink or the bottom of a tub with a soothing soft shower raining down on your bird is a very healthy way of keeping your bird fresh and clean. Smaller birds might enjoy rolling around in very wet leaves of leafy greens like swiss chard or kale. Simply wet the leaves, place them on a tray and allow your birds to run through the leaves or roll around in them. 

Most birds will come to enjoy being misted after a short time. If your bird requires a bit of extra help to get used to being misted, stick with it and don't give up. It's amazing what a simple little spray can do for a bird's looks, health, and happiness!